The Fizzles Of October

Fizzles of October314Americans have been anxiously awaiting the debut of the Affordable Care Act since the Democratic Congress passed it and President Obama signed it into law those long years ago. It held special significance for those with pre-existing conditions who were denied coverage, unless you were lucky enough to be included in a group plan at your place of work. The alternative was the emergency room, and that was only if the ailment had reached a critical stage demanding immediate attention. If you were in that neutral zone between wealth and poverty, it meant crippling medical bills that drove many into bankruptcy.

So any change was welcome, sort of. Watching politicians dissect the new law was like watching a pack of blind drunken plumbers performing brain surgery, and you could only hope the patient would survive with all his parts intact. There were so many deals cut to satisfy the needs of the politican-doctors and the insurance cartels that the end result was sewn-together abomination that even Dr. Frankenstien would have disowned.

But it was the best they could do, given that their majority was unlikely to survive the mid-term election of 2010. Nobody read the final draft. Nurse Nancy said we’d all find out what they had done after the bandages were removed.

There were immediate benefits, for my family in particular. PCIP probably saved my wife’s life, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I got to see how the system works up close and personal. The doctors were competent and professional. Mercy Dignity Hospital is a well-run facility. The staff was helpful and compassionate. It really seemed that things were running smoothly for the new program.

Until we saw how much the ordeal had cost. Without getting into specific numbers, I calculate that it would take 900 healthy millennials paying the same high premiums just to break even. And that’s just one case out of the hundreds of thousands that will now flood the doctor’s offices and clinics across the land.

That’s the sticker shock that Americans woke up to after the new exchanges opened up in October. The botched computers are just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that every working stiff will be subsidizing the sick and elderly, which they had been doing unconsciously before through inflated and inadequate insurance premiums. Obamacare just made it more obvious how broken the system really is.

John Roberts declared the the new insurance rates and subsidies are a tax, and he was correct. It’s a new tax passed through the hands of the insurance companies to the providers. And the public outrage is designed to force those providers into taking a smaller cut of the action, along with reams of new regulations.

There is already grumbling from the doctors and hospitals. Some will drop insurance and medicaid altogether and see patients on a cash-only basis. New arrivals will avoid general practice, opting for specialized services. More patients will never see a doctor, as the burden is shifted to nurse practitioners who are not as well versed on diagnosing serious conditions. Rationing, if you will.

The reluctant Republicans who refused to vote for the ACA said it was a ruse to move us into a single payer system, and they were right too. Perhaps that’s the only way to resolve the problem in the long run. There is no easy answer, and no free ride.

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8 Responses to The Fizzles Of October

  1. Chris Peterson says:

    Single-payer was, is and will always be, the only way this will work. We had the track record of over a dozen industrialized nations to use as a template, but noooo! We had to patch together a plan that made the insurancem pharmaceutical, and medical industries happy and still in charge. Instead of a system that works for the nation’s economy and it’s people, once again those in power made sure they stayed in power. In that; President Obama resolutely failed.

    And now; it will never happen; with Washington tied in knots, and the repubs way out in front of the dems in securing state legislatures, (more than a decade of strategic gerrymandering), looks like Vermont will be the only place we will see a system that actually works, in the near future.

    The bad news; things will totally unravel and those in positions of power over your health and bankbook will be even more so.

    The good news; none. Onward and downward, America.

  2. Robert Lovejoy says:

    Crabbie, I am generally opposed to Obamacare, but am tickled pink that your bride received care. Seems to me a more targeted legislation for those in your boat would have been more effective. Instead, we have turned the apple cart on its side.
    By now, the current occupant of the White House was planning on parading lines of cancer patients in front of the flashing cameras that have been saved by Obamacare. Day after day we were to treated to the “Queen For A Day” hapless poor good people whose lives have been saved, complete with tear jerking stories akin to the Oprah Win-free Show.
    Instead, we hear day after day that good people are losing their doctors, their insurance, and are worse off now than before. Some are losing access to their cancer doctors. And paying more. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Wait until 80 million or so people receive notices that their employer sponsored health insurance will be cancelled. You will hear the cacophony chorus of wailing and gnashing of teeth up to the 3rd Heaven.

  3. Don Baumgart says:

    TV’s talking heads are calling the president’s health care mess his Katrina and comparing him to George Bush.

    “It’s come to this, and wasn’t it a long way down.” – Judy Collins, Dress Rehearsal Rag

  4. Douglas Keachic says:

    It all depends on what sort of society we want to live in. If you are comfortable with homelessness and folks dying under the overpasses, and being quietly disposed of, then the old system worked for you. If you are comfortable with Ronald McDonald getting a tax write-off for his excellent hospital side Houses, while advising poorly paid workers to suck-it-up and apply for gov benefits, instead of having McDonald’s pay enough so that the workers themselves can make donations, the the old system is fine. If you think babies by the millions, born unwanted, makes for a Great Society, then the old system is fine. If you think that to honor the spirit of the country’s founders we need a few changes around here, instead of using their words to force a continuation of the status quo, then you’ve got my attention.

    • rlcrabb says:

      All very well and good, but the ability to fix all the inequities of society depends on a vibrant economy, and the more money sucked out of your pockets limits growth and innovation. It’s been five years since the greedheads of Wall St. almost brought the nation to its knees. Neither Democrat or Republican has done much to rein them in. Obama’s answer has been to nibble around the edges, and in the meantime, created only more uncertainty by leading the public to believe that their insurance premiums were going to be the same or less than they were a year ago. The only bright spot has been lower energy costs, and his policies on fracking and increased production have been met with disdain from the left. If progressives had their way, we’d even be poorer and more dependent on government help. Even many green advocates are now realizing that renewable energy is not going to meet the demands of the future, and some are now looking to nuclear to fill the gap. But we know that ain’t gonna happen either, don’t we?
      Life is not going to get any easier for all of us unless progressives and conservatives get their heads out of their asses and look at practical solutions to our current malaise. But we know that ain’t gonna happen either, don’t we?

  5. Terry Pittsford says:

    You’re right Crabbman, there is no free ride, but the answer is easy: Mandate that congress have the same healthcare options as We the People. You can bet that REAL progress would be made at that point and our legislators would be jumping through hoops to come up with fair and viable options for everyone. I know, I know, it’s all highly unlikely that such fairness and common sense could prevail but we can hope, can’t we? After all, “hope and change” is what this administration is all about isn’t it. Well isn’t it?

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